The cross stitch picture I am putting up is L&L's Angel of Love. I chose her, not because she was a new piece this year, but because of her story.
In 2004, Patti K from Canada and I were both members of an on-line cross stitch group, and one day she posted "I wish someone would take this angel off my hands", and put up a pic of a partially stitched Angel of Love. She had started it at the request of her sister in law in 2000, and had stitched the Angel's head, wings, and sleeves, and a little of the top of the cape. Her sister in law then changed her mind about wanting the angel, and she had sat in Patti's work basket for nearly 5 years. I'd never stitched anything as big as a L&L before, never stitched with beads, and never stitched on linen. But I put up my hand, and just before Christmas 2004, I got a lovely package from Canada which contained the part-stitched angel on beautiful linen fabric, all the floss and beads that Patti had kitted up for it, the original chart, and a soft padded project bag. I was so excited! Unfortunately, I was having health problems at the time - flu-like symptoms, tiredness, aching painful swollen joints especially my hands. At the time I was unable to fasten my own car seat-belt or do something as simple as put on socks or do up a bra. To cut a long story short, I was very soon after diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I immediately was put on to methotrexate, which for me was a miracle drug, but it's a drug that takes a while to build up in the body to therapeutic levels, and for me it took just on 6 months before it got the symptoms under control. Despite this, I was keen to get started on the Angel, and started her just after Christmas 2005. I can still recall sitting in tears trying to pick up a bead with my needle, and sometimes it would take me half an hour to get just 1 or 2 beads stitched on that skirt. But, being somewhat stubborn and quite compulsive about my hobbies, I persisted, and put in my final stitches in the Angel of Love before the end of May 2005. I stitched (in gold Mill Hill petite beads) Patti's initials and her starting year of 2000, and my initials and my finishing year of 2005 on the bottom, and sent her for framing. When I sent a photo over to Patti, she was thrilled to see her finished and framed, and said it brought tears to her eyes. A more generous person may have sent the finished piece back to Patti, but to be honest, that was never going to happen! Since then, the Angel of Love has spent January to mid November hanging on the wall of my lounge room, and the festive season hanging wherever my angels are being displayed - for the past few years in my dining room. I have since stitched L&L's Angels of Grace and Hope, and many Santas I love them all, but none of my cross stitched items is as special to me as the Angel of Love.
As I said, I'm into Christmas in a big way. I stitch all year for Christmas. I decorate the entire house for Christmas, including changing all the art works and the contents of the display cupboards. It takes me (with a lot of help, and very little sleep) at least three weeks to transition into Christmas, and at least one week to change back after Christmas. I like to have the house back to its usual state by New Years Day, and so far I have always managed to do it, but this year I have my doubts! From Dec 1 to Dec 24 I have lots of Christmas visitors. Many of them are children, accompanied by assorted relatives. Some families I see only at Christmas. I usually stitch a Christmas ornament for any child I know will be visiting, and I also have little take-home gifts, gingerbreads, and handmade angels for the children, and most adults. I really enjoy my Christmas visits! The few days before Christmas are the most popular visiting times (after school is finished for the year), so by Christmas Eve I am pretty tired. After I see off the last of my Christmas visitors, I sit and watch the Christmas Carols by Candlelight on TV, and relax. My extended family has its Christmas party early, usually on the weekend before Christmas. On Christmas Day I trot across the road to my sister's house for Christmas brunch, and that signals for me the end of Christmas. I come home and start packing things away. An anti-climax, really. It's like saying goodbye to old friends, as I wrap and pack the Santas, angels, and other decorations. But it's nice to have the old house back! I usually swear I'll never do it again, and that holds till about August, when I start to think how nice it will be to have all my Christmas things around me - and the cycle starts again!
Today, if you came to my front door and stepped inside, this is what you would see:
Thank you for your Christmas Advent visit! Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones. I hope 2016 brings for each of you a year of good health, good fortune, peace and contentment - and lots of joy!